Sunderland Ladies 1-1 Reading Women: Hosts pull it back for a draw in their opening fixture

Beth Mead's second half strike earned the Lady Black Cats a point.

Sunderland Ladies 1-1 Reading Women: Hosts pull it back for a draw in their opening fixture
Sunderland ladies celebrating their goal | Photo sourced Sunderland Ladies twitter
Sunderland Ladies
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Reading Ladies
Sunderland Ladies: (4-3-3): Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Williams, Sjoman, Johnston (Ramshaw, 45), Furness, Chaplen, Staniforth, Joice (Kelly, 45), Mead.
Reading Ladies: (4-3-3): Moloney; Jane, Bartrip, McGee, Rowe; Hines, Roche, Estcourt (Bruton 58); Ward (Jones 90), Boho Sayo, Follis.
SCORE: 0-1, Roche 41'. 1-1, Mead 46'.
REFEREE: Glen Hart (ENG).

The Lady Black Cats fought back to earn a well-deserved point against Reading Women on Saturday evening at Eppleton CW - not the dream start in their opening fixture of the new FAWSL 1 campaign.

The weather conditions were making it tough for both sides to keep control of the ball, but Sunderland found their feet well and went close inside the opening 15 minutes through Abbey Joice and Brooke Chaplen. 

Minutes later Chaplen unleashed an ambitious drive from 25-yards, which forced Grace Moloney to tip the ball round the post.

Beth Mead then went close after a fantastic cross from Rachel Furness saw the striker flick the ball on; however, again, Moloney got hands to the ball.

Reading took the lead with five minutes left in the first half when Helen Ward drilled a free-kick and Lois Roche got a touch on the ball to beat Rachel Laws, leaving her wrong-footed.

Reading took their time with the last corner kick of the first half too, as they were happy to take the 1-0 lead going into the second-half despite Sunderland having the better chances.

Mead levels as Sunderland finally get on the scoresheet

Early changes for Carlton Fairweather's side saw Krystle Johnston and Abby Joice come off for Keira Ramshaw and Emma Kelly at the start of the second-half.

The Lady Black Cats then equalised less than a minute into the second half, with Mead played through, holding off the defender, and rounding the 'keeper before firing into the net to score her first goal of the season. 

Beth Mead celebrating her first goal of the season | Photo sourced: Sunderland Ladies FC
Beth Mead celebrating her first goal of the season | Photo sourced: Sunderland Ladies FC

Minutes later, the ladies had another chance with Mead clean through again as she left the defender for dead, but the 'keeper just got enough on it to slow it down. Mead began to run away to celebrate, which was short lived and she was left bewildered as the last ditch defending on the line kept the scores level.

Reading had their chances of restoring their lead through Roche, however, an in-form Laws kept the two teams level once more. 

The second half had been scrappier than the first and at one point both teams struggled to string a few passes together. With the last five minutes left of the game, Reading looked to amp up the pressure and start to find their stride and attack Sunderland's defence, as the roles reversed. 

Reading had the better chances in the second, but three minutes into injury time, Sunderland looked to create one final chance to take the three points. However, they couldn't fashion enough of an opening to get their dream start to the season, instead having to settle for a point.